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This study examines the input of the Myer Briggs model and the interpersonal compatibility model to solve team conflicts experienced in a team project setting. In this analysis, we establish that both models carefully study the psychometric variables seen in team members, or among people within a group setting. From the same analysis, we see that the Myer Briggs model identifies that; people should be categorized according to their personality types (either introverts or extroverts) because both groups have different strategies of working.
In solving this article’s dilemma, the interpersonal compatibility model comes in handy to pick up from where the Myer Briggs model leaves because it advocates for a complement of personality traits, with opposite personality attributes. From this analysis, we see that both models can be used to effectively improve team efficiency and most of all, eliminate team conflict.
Teams have become increasingly common in many organizations due to the realization by most managers that, teams are more effective and efficient than individual working. Consequently, there have been increased interests among most managers and researchers about the working of teams and the underlying elements which affect their performance. The key in this study is the psychological underpinnings behind team performance.
Psychological underpinnings behind team performances are important because teams are made up of people, and people are largely defined by psychological attributes. Moreover, team working is subject to the study of team psychology because teams are more complex than individual working since team member interactions are representative of human interaction. This analysis is represented by the assertion that team working is not only representative of the fact that, team working is a sum of the total number of parts that constitute a team; it is more complex than that.
For teams to be complete there ought to be a group of people working towards the achievement of a common goal. For instance, before a group of people call themselves a team; first, they ought to be within the mind-frame of a team. Orlick asserts that:
“We cannot win in team situations or relationships by ourselves. It is like trying to pick up a pencil with only one finger…Even if that one finger is extremely strong, it will prove almost impossible to pick up that pencil unless you use your other fingers or some other part of your hand. Teamwork is a bit like using all of your fingers. Each one is unique and contributes something different, but they unite in pursuit of a common goal” (Orlick, 2011, p. 1).
The understanding of team psychology aims at coordinating team activities and streamlining teams to work towards a common purpose. In the accomplishment of this purpose, many researchers have come up with different approaches to manage teams. Some common insights into team-working have been advanced by researchers such as Meredith Belbin and Klein Blanchard, both of whom have come up with the Belgian team Inventory model and the personality understanding of teams model respectively (West, 2005). Though activities done by teams are conventional, many of the techniques or models adopted by team managers are new, and seek to solve new and unexplored concepts of team working.
Conventionally, many managers have used the concept of team building and team interviews to help streamline team activities, especially when they are under the impression that, team members are not in cohesion with one another. Also, conventionally, some managers have adopted the strategy of changing team structures and communication strategies to improve team cohesion in the long run (West, 2005). In recent times, many managers have resorted to software-enabled techniques that analyze team profiles and come up with a good strategy to improve team collaboration and cohesion.
In the case of this study, I will incorporate a domestic analysis of team management in a project management setup, where team members are supposed to work together towards the accomplishment of a common goal (of project success). This team working context involves a construction company where team members are supposed to work cohesively towards the accomplishment of high construction standards for local clients, but team conflicts are usually experienced as a result of personality clashes. In the project setup, there have been increased concerns of personality clashes between team members, which have been further exacerbated by cultural differences existing among team members.
To tackle the team discord evidenced in this setup, this study will evaluate the contribution of the Myers Briggs Type indicator model and the interpersonal compatibility model to explain this scenario. To gain a better understanding of how these models will be used to explain the above dilemma, existing concepts and principles behind the two psychometric variables will be analyzed. Also, to explain the above dilemma, the psychological underpinnings of the two models will be brought to fore and an explanation of how the psychological underpinnings affect the group will be analyzed.
Afterward, I will undertake a comparative analysis to evaluate the two models and determine the reliability and usefulness of their evidence base. To easily solve the above team dilemma, this study will later synthesize the different attributes of the two theories and provide a guideline which will be used to solve the above team working dilemma. As the final part of this study, this analysis will show how the guideline identified to solve the team working dilemma will extrapolate the workings of the Myers Briggs Type indicator and the interpersonal compatibility models.
Myers Briggs Type Indicator Model
The Myers Briggs model works by giving people a questionnaire designed to interpret the respondent’s view of the world through a psychometric test analysis. Originally, this model was developed from theories advanced by Carl Gustav in a book published in the 1920s (Briggs, 1980). The model was also originally developed to enable women in the World War II era to determine the kind of jobs they would best fit in (which in this case refers to the type of teams people are best suited to fit in).
The Myer Briggs model was first tested in 1962 with the use of normal indicators of personality traits occurring in their natural environments. Currently, the Myers Briggs model is largely perceived as the most common personality indicator used in the world today, considering over two million tests are undertaken every year (Capraro, 2002, p. 590). In acclamation of the Myer Briggs test model, it is affirmed that the model surpasses many reliability and efficiency tests when compared to other similar models (for instance, it has been established that the model demonstrates a high construct validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability) (Capraro, 2002, p. 590).
In understanding the conceptual working of the Myer Briggs test, it should be understood that the model was developed from previous concepts advanced by Carl Jung, in his theory of psychological type (Briggs, 1980). In this theory, Carl Jung said that people work within two cognitive functional frameworks: judging functions and perceiving functions (Briggs, 1980). In the judging function, there exist elements of thought and feelings, while in the perceiving function; there exist elements of sense and intuition.
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In this type of concept, it should also be understood that Jung and Myer Briggs propose that, people are born to think in only two ways. This kind of scenario can be perceived as people either being left or right-handed, with no intermediary. To better explain her model, Myer Briggs proposed that, people’s personality traits fall into two broad categories of personality traits which are summed up by 16 personality traits (Bruce, 1986, p. 745). It is further affirmed that, of the two groups of personality traits, none is better than the other, but people generally unconsciously fall into one of the categories.
Since people fall into one category of the personality group, it becomes difficult for people to work within the framework of the other personality group. An example is given of the ‘right-hand and left-hand scenario’, where it is difficult for people who are right-handed to work with the left hand, and in the same regard; it is equally difficult for people working with the left hand to work with the right hand. In the context of the project team, this analysis becomes very prominent in the team working scenario because it is difficult to merge people associated with different personality groups in one team. They will not complement each other.
On both extremes, the Myer Briggs model defines people’s personalities as either introverts or extroverts (Capraro, 2002, p. 590). However, for each extreme, there are several variables. For instance, some people are moderately introverts, and in the same manner, some people are moderately extroverts. In this scenario, Myers Brigg’s model defines these two personality types as attitudes among people. Both personality types also operate in a manner which defines the interaction with the external environment; in the sense that, each of the personality traits can operate in a world characterized by behavior, people, and things (for the extrovert person), and in the same manner, the personality trait can interact with the external environment, in a world characterized by ideas, and reflection (for introverts) (Bruce, 1986, p. 745).
In defining the implication of these personality traits, Myers Brigg’s model explains that people, who are generally perceived as extroverts, tend to derive a lot of satisfaction from actions. In their tendencies to act, such people often tend to take a break to reflect on their actions and afterward, they continue with their actions all the same. If the element of action is withdrawn, the Myer Briggs model suggests that extroverts lose their motivation to work.
The situation is not any different for introverts because introverts also derive a lot of energy from actions, but the difference is seen from the fact that introverts tend to reflect a lot on their actions. For instance, Myer Briggs suggests that introverts reflect, act and then reflect again (Bruce, 1986, p. 745). The sequence is different for extroverts. Also, the difference between the two groups of people exposes itself in the sense that, as opposed to how extroverts derive their motivation from constant activity, introverts need a lot of time to themselves to expound on their energy.
From this analysis, we see that extroverts are somehow inclined to direct their energies in dealing with people, objects and such like elements, but introverts tend to direct their energies towards coming up with ideas and concepts. From this understanding, we also see that there is a huge contrast of mannerism, behavior, and ideology among people, and it can be further exposed from the fact that extroverts are inclined to act while introverts are inclined to think; extroverts, rely a lot on the breadth of knowledge obtained while introverts rely a lot on the depth of knowledge obtained; extroverts need a lot of interaction with people but introverts only need substantial interaction with people, and extroverts get a lot of motivation from interacting with other people while introverts recharge their energy from spending time alone (Bruce, 1986, p. 745).
In further dissecting the Myer Briggs model, we see that the model advocates for a two pairs psychological model, where one is based on perception and the other is based on judgment. The latter is characterized by elements of thought and feelings, while the first is characterized by sense and intuition. According to the model, people, or team members are usually inclined to associate with one category more than the other, but the circumstances or conditions warranting the use of the four concepts differ, depending on the situation.
Regardless, the four categories of psychological functions are aimed at understanding how people perceive or interpret new information. Under the perception function, people are usually attracted or believe information that can be perceived by the five senses or that, which is present and concrete. Under the intuition category, people who fall in this category tend to rely a lot on flashes of information they receive from the unconscious mind and consequently, the try to relate such information to present information (Bruce, 1986, p. 745).
People who associate themselves with the judgment function and identify with the thinking and feeling functions tend to detach themselves with the type of information they are dealing with, and consequently, they tend to make decisions based on logic and facts (McCrae, 1989). This especially stands true for people who identify with the thinking function. Those who identify with the feeling function are inclined to make decisions based on their empathy and sympathy with a given situation. However, neither of the categories of psychological function is more superior to the other.
Interpersonal Compatibility Model
The interpersonal compatibility model is aimed at determining the long-term sustainability of teams, or the interaction of people between teams. There have been various concepts advanced in psychology, meant to explain interpersonal compatibility, but there is no definite theory which has been advanced to explain the phenomenon (Ansell, 2008, p. 502). For instance, many theories advanced to explain interpersonal compatibility, greatly conflict with one another (for instance, it is difficult to establish if interpersonal compatibility is fostered by the match of personality traits or the compliment of different personalities).
In the same regard, interpersonal compatibility has been analyzed from a non-scientific standpoint such as, astrological compatibility, but of all existing tools developed to study interpersonal compatibility, it is important to acknowledge the input of Timothy Leary, William Schutz, Hans Jurgen, Russel Ackoff and George Crane; all, of who developed tools such as the three-factor hypothesis, compatibility with temperaments, compatibility test pamphlets and the likes to explain interpersonal compatibility (Ansell, 2008, p. 502).
Though the interpersonal compatibility model has been seen to complement most of credible psychological research regarding personality types, it is also important to note that, the model does not lack its fair share of controversy. For example, the model has been criticized on the basis that there exists no clearly defined benchmark for defining personality compatibility. Secondly, it has been established that the model uses matching and compatibility, interchangeably, while they do not refer to the same thing. Thirdly, it is affirmed that interpersonal compatibility determination lacks a permanent acknowledgment in the field of social science and some personality parameters used in the model may change with time (Ansell, 2008, p. 502).
However, in as much as the model has been criticized by some researchers, it has also been affirmed that the model has stood the test of time, in some respects, and part of its strength emanates from the fact that, it can be easily used to determine the selection of potential mates, in human relationships. In the same context which the model uses to determine the sustainability of human relationships, the same concept is used to determine team effectiveness, with regards to their operations.
Interpersonal compatibility is normally understood from the premise that people relate to each other, based on the nature of their interpersonal circle. In the interpersonal circle, human behavior can be categorized into two: dominance and warmth (Ansell, 2008, p. 502). In this kind of analysis, it is easy to determine the kind of response a person is going to invite by simply understanding their interpersonal circle. The type of behavior a person is likely to invite from another person within the interpersonal circle is bound to be complementary to one another.
For example, under the ‘warmth’ category, it can be said that unfriendly behavior is bound to attract friendly behavior and under the dominance category, dominance is bound to beget submissiveness. When such kind of a relationship is not envisaged, there is bound to be a mismatch of personality traits, or in other words, there is no complementary behavior going to happen. If the kind of reaction expected by an instigator is complimentary and meets the goals of the instigator, a fulfilling situation is bound to be created and progress is bound to be made. If this scenario is analyzed from a team point of view, a lot of efficiency is bound to be realized if people can complement each other’s personality traits. If a certain kind of response is warranted by an individual, and the said response is mismatched, there is bound to be a lot of frustrations within the team.
Nonetheless, according to the interpersonal compatibility model, there are several factors which are bound to affect complementarity. One main factor is the setting where individuals interact (Moskowitz, 2007, p. 1051). This could be the organizational setting, home setting, office setting and such like settings. It has been affirmed that the best kind of surroundings where agentic behavior is bound to be realized is in the office or organizational settings, but the best surroundings where communal complementarity is bound to be fostered is in the relaxed and informal environments.
It is also affirmed that agentic compliments are bound to be fostered in organizational environments because elements like setting organizational goals and the likes are likely to be complemented by other factors such as submissive traits, like failing to question authority and similar attributes. However, more relaxed environments like; smiling to someone, may easily amount to communal complements, such as compromising on a decision because of the smile. Alternatively, the opposite environment may beget the opposite reaction, like if a person shows attributes of impatience, they may warrant reactions like silence or neglect from the other partner.
Secondly, the social role status of individuals within groups may easily affect the level of interpersonal complements, because people have different social roles, say, supervisors, coworkers and other people (Locke, 2007, p. 94). For instance, it has been affirmed that a high level of complements is likely to be achieved among individuals of a higher status (as compared to those of a lower status). This is true because it has also been affirmed that, people of a higher status are likely to interact freely among themselves. It has also been affirmed that people from a lower status are likely to experience lower interpersonal complements because they are not as free as high-status individuals (in their primary environments) and in the same manner, they are also highly inhibited by social norms (Moskowitz, 2007, p. 1051).
Lastly, time is also another important element that influences interpersonal communication, in the sense that, people relate to each other differently, based on variable timelines (Tracey, 2004). For instance, there would be a difference in the manner strangers and old friends relate to one another. In this analysis, it has also been established that high levels of personality complements are likely to be enjoyed over long periods, as opposed to lower levels of personality complements because high levels of complements are likely to be realized in situations where people have known one another for a long time; while low levels of personality complements are likely to be realized when people have known each other for a short time (Ansell, 2008, p. 502).
Merger of the Models
For the models discussed above to be truly applicable in the context of this study, they ought to be merged. Both models critically explain the psychological underpinnings of team working; based on the fact that, they appeal to the human cognitive and personality traits to determine how best or how unsuited team members can be with one another. The Myers Briggs model advances the fact that team members are either categorized as introverts or extroverts, and each category has its unique elements of analysis. On the other hand, the interpersonal complementary model advances the fact that; team members should work in an environment where their personality traits are complementary to one another.
In both kinds of scenarios, we can see that both models are aimed at ensuring people work efficiently within their group contexts. In merging the two models, we see that categorizing the two groups identified in the interpersonal compatibility (dominance and warmth) model with the two groups identified in the Myers Briggs model (introverts and extroverts) goes a long way in understanding how team members can work efficiently in different groups.
The four groups can be merged, based on the premise that extroverts would easily complement one another’s personality traits in their group, while introverts would also complement one another’s personality traits within their groups. This is the same basis that will be used to merge the dominance and warmth groups envisaged in the two groups evidenced in the interpersonal compatibility model because, under both groups, personalities have been known to easily complement one another. In this analysis, the key to merging the two models, therefore, lies in the complementary function.
Usefulness of Evidence Base
The usefulness of the evidence base gathered in the analysis of the above two models is invaluable to the solution of team working problems. Considering the models work towards ensuring team members work complementary to one another is an important piece of information needed to the resolution of team conflict which has been envisaged over the past few months. The knowledge on the different personality types envisaged in both models provide an understanding of the various personality clashes among team members, and further information advanced on how to deal with the different personality types is important information needed to solve team conflicts.
Of highest importance is the information categorizing team member personalities and how they can be effectively used as a tool to improve team-building efforts. For instance, considering the Myer Briggs model advances the fact that, introverts cannot work best when they are pooled together with extroverts; it emphasizes the importance of reassigning team members according to their personality traits. In other words, within the organizational setup, team members who are identified to be extroverts will be classified under one team and team members who are identified to be introverts will be categorized into another group. After this stage, the Interpersonal compatibility model becomes of high importance in solving team conflicts because it advocates for the analysis of team members’ personalities to improve compatibility through the improvement of personality complements.
The interpersonal compatibility model advocates the fact that team member traits should be complementary to one another, and in this case, it is important to emphasize that, different personality traits among team members are important in boosting team working. Picking up from the personality divisions undertaken according to the Myer Briggs model, we can see that, considering team members have been subdivided into two groups (of introverts and extroverts); the two groups can be designed to work together to complement one another’s personality traits. From this analysis, therefore, we see that team conflict can be effectively reduced and team efficiency effectively increased.
From the two models identified in this study, we can extrapolate a guideline aimed at solving team conflicts. From the understanding of the two models, we see that team conflicts can be understood from the understanding of the various personality clashes among team members. Team members fail to work cohesively or fail to meet their team objectives because they have different approaches towards the realization of the same goals.
For instance, according to the Myer Briggs model, we see that it is very difficult for a team member, who belongs to the introvert group to work in the same pool as another team member hailing from an extrovert group. This is true because the Myer Briggs model explains in figurative terms that, it is difficult for a person to work with the left arm if they are right-handed. Moreover, it has been affirmed that extroverts are action-oriented while introverts are thought-oriented. This implies different strategies of action for both groups.
In coming up with the guiding framework for this study therefore, we should acknowledge that the first step to be undertaken is the identification of team personalities to establish if they are introverts or extroverts. Once we can categorically isolate team members into the two groups, we can easily determine the framework in which they achieve their success, or derive their energy from. For example, from the above literature, we have seen that introverts derive their energy from reflection and private time while extroverts derive their energy from constant interaction with people and through consistent actions.
Once the two groups have been subdivided, we will use the interpersonal compatibility model to ensure both teams work towards the realization of the same goal. In ensuring both teams work towards the same goals, a design framework should be developed, depending on the team task at hand, where the work of one team blends with the work of another.
This strategy is in line with the complementary goal of the interpersonal compatibility model. In fine-tuning this task, several aspects identified in the interpersonal compatibility model will be used. These elements are the factors known to affect team complementarity and they entail team setting, social role status and time( Moskowitz, 2007, p. 1051). All these parameters should be effectively factored in the team design model to ensure high team compatibility is achieved. This strategy will effectively reduce team conflict.
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